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Family Physician

Family physicians are licensed to diagnose and treat patients’ physical and mental diseases, disorders, injuries, and other health-related problems.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education 8+ years post-secondary
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 9,200
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Doctor, Family Doctor, General Practitioner, Medical Doctor

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: General Practitioners and Family Physicians (3112) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: General Practitioners and Family Physicians (D012) 
  • 2011 NOC: General practitioners and family physicians (3112) 
  • 2016 NOC: General practitioners and family physicians (3112) 
Interest Codes
The Family Physician is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
General Practitioners and Family Physicians

Interest in precision working to diagnose diseases, prescribe treatments and provide continuous care to patients


Interest in mentoring by providing counselling and support to patients and their families on a wide range of health and lifestyle issues, by advising patients and their families on health care including health promotion and disease, illness and accident prevention and by referring patients to specialists


Interest in co-ordinating information from the results of medical tests to advise patients on health care options; in providing acute care management, in co-ordinating or managing primary patient care and in supervising home care services

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2018

Family physicians are highly skilled generalists. They diagnose and treat patients’ physical and mental diseases, disorders, injuries, and other health-related problems.

In general, family physicians:

  • take medical histories and examine patients
  • order, perform and interpret medical tests to screen and diagnose (or prevent) medical conditions
  • determine suitable treatments (such as lifestyle change, surgery, medication, or more complex treatment or rehabilitation programs)
  • discuss health care and healthy lifestyle choices with patients (including diet and activity)
  • refer patients to specialist physicians (as necessary)
  • take part in health care teams and work with other health care providers (such as other physicians, nurses and pharmacists)
  • teach and train students
  • conduct research and integrate best evidence into practice
  • advocate on behalf of patients
  • help create, organize and introduce changes to improve overall health in the community
  • use technology to keep detailed medical records (such as an Electronic Medical Record)
  • co-ordinate patient care across health care settings and with other health care providers
  • adhere to established professional standards of ethical practice.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Family physicians may work in hospitals, clinics, offices, and community settings. As a result, their working conditions vary. Most days, family physicians see a stream of patients. Sometimes they work at various locations (such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or patients’ homes), which can involve a lot of driving. The work offers rewards and challenges. It is emotionally demanding.

Family physicians often work long hours. They may have rotating shifts or be on call. Most spend some time on their feet (to examine or treat patients) and some time at a desk doing paperwork. Those in private practice manage their own careers, company finances, and human resources.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Family physicians need to possess:

  • the academic intelligence to complete the required studies
  • the ability to continue lifelong learning
  • people skills and the ability to inspire confidence
  • the stamina required to work long hours
  • emotional strength and maturity
  • a commitment to high standards and professional ethics
  • speaking and listening skills
  • leadership skills
  • teamwork skills.

They should enjoy:

  • problem solving
  • dealing with people
  • coordinating the work of others.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Family physicians must successfully complete:

  1. pre-medicine studies at the university level
  2. a 3- or 4-year medical doctor (MD) degree program at an accredited university
  3. a post-graduate training program in family medicine (minimum 2 years to complete).

MD programs in Canada are quota programs. This means many applicants who fulfill the entrance requirements do not get in. Successful applicants are selected on the basis of:

  • academic grades
  • letters of recommendation
  • interviews
  • the results of a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) (where applicable).

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

University of Alberta

University of Calgary

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Physician, Surgeon and Osteopath

Physicians and surgeons assess the physical, mental and psychosocial condition of individuals to establish a diagnosis; assist individuals to make informed choices about medical and surgical treatments; treat physical, mental and psychosocial conditions; promote wellness, injury avoidance, disease prevention and cure through research and education; and engage in research, education and administration with respect to health. Osteopaths use manual techniques to assess, diagnose and treat diseases, disorders and dysfunctions of the body's structure.


Under Alberta's Health Professions Act and Physicians, Surgeons and Osteopaths Profession Regulation, you must be a registered member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) to practice medicine in Alberta.

What You Need

Registration requires successful completion of: (1) an approved medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, (2) two years of acceptable post-graduate training in family medicine or four or more years of acceptable post-graduate training in a specialization, and (3) approved examinations. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the CPSA website or contact CPSA.

Working in Alberta

Physicians, surgeons and osteopaths who are registered by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered physicians, surgeons and osteopaths in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To learn about certification for internationally educated physicians, surgeons, and osteopaths, see General Practitioner/Family Physician Licensing Process and Specialist Physician Licensing Process.

Contact Details

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta
2700, 10020 - 100 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada  T5J 0N3
Phone number: 780-423-4764
Toll-free phone number (within Alberta): 1-800-561-3899
Fax number: 780-420-0651

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Many family physicians work in private practice clinics or for regional health authorities. Others work in:

  • medical research
  • public health
  • occupational medicine
  • health administration
  • overseas service
  • military service.

Family physicians may continue their education to specialize in other areas such as sports medicine. For a current list of recognized specializations, see the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) websites.

Family physicians are part of the 2011 National Occupational Classification 3112: General practitioners and family physicians. In Alberta, 94% of people employed in this classification work in the Health Care and Social Assistance [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 3112: General practitioners and family physicians occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 3.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 206 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the 206 new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Family physicians in private practice are self-employed. Their incomes vary a lot. Factors include location,  number of patient visits, and the cost of running a medical office.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Alberta College of Family Physicians (ACFP) website:

Alberta Medical Association (AMA) website:

College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) website:

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) website:

Medical Council of Canada (MCC) website:

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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